Mapping American Broadband
New mapping bill inches forward, with compromises
For most of the past decade, the FCC has failed almost utterly to correctly track broadband penetration levels in the United States. In addition to considering a 200kbps connection broadband, the agency has consistently stated that if a zip code has just one home or business with broadband service, that zip code is "wired"
for broadband. Obviously, this method has made broadband penetration look better than many of us know it actually is -- particularly in rural markets. That makes mega-ISPs happy, so reform has been a long time coming.
Even FCC Commissioners agree. "Finding one high-speed subscriber in a zip code and counting it as service available throughout is not a credible way to proceed,"
stated Commissioner Copps back in 2003
. The GAO also issued several reports
(pdf) that found fault with the FCC's methods. Independent parties that tried to get accurate data were rebuffed
by the FCC and incumbent operators.
It's now almost 2008, and a House subcommittee today gave initial approval for The Broadband Census of America Act, a bill by Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA). The bill (original discussion draft
pdf) initially stated that if a connection wasn't 2Mbps, it technically wasn't broadband
. That provision has since been removed in a compromise with Republicans.
It will, however, still eliminate the FCC's zip code metric, instead tasking the NTIA with giving grants to communities in order to -- get this -- actually head into the American wilds and see who has broadband.
The cable industry's largest trade group, the NCTA
, has come out in favor of the bill -- because they likely feel that improved broadband mapping will highlight their faster speeds and somewhat superior rural neighborhood broadband penetration when compared to DSL.
That rural penetration is thanks, in part, to the local franchise system the phone industry has been successfully eliminating
-- in order to remove build-out requirements as they enter the TV market. Expect the phone industry to vehemently oppose the bill, lest it highlight the deployment limitations of their next-gen deployment efforts (FiOS, U-Verse). If it's any good, it should highlight limited DOCSIS 3.0 deployment as well."This is a very consumer-friendly mapping function and 'demand-side' identification that the high tech and telecommunications industry also supports,"
Markey says in a statement
on his website. For now, the bill moves forward, with a bipartisan understanding that the FCC's methods have been flawed. Of course, knowing you have a problem is only the first step on the long road to recovery.
Re: Great... sorta
said by Uncle Paul:The original draft was a MINIMUM 2/1 mbps. The marked up final committee draft removed any mention of broadband speeds.
So what exactly is the definition of broadband then?
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Glen Carbon, IL
| |said by Uncle Paul:I don't know, and that's what's bothersome.
So what exactly is the definition of broadband then?
There not only has to be a minimum transfer rate requirement, but there needs to be a price requirement as well.
I suggest a minimum speed of 768kbps, and a maximum monthly cost of say, 15 x Min. Wage. That figure would currently come out to $77.25/mo. There also needs to be a latency requirement, and a requirement of the minimum percentage of street addresses that have access.
Why all these requirements?
384kbps DSL currently fits the guidelines, but it's hardly what I consider broadband. 768k is barely there, and even that will seem slow.
Suppose I live in Dinkyville, WY or SmallTown, MT. No offense to Wyoming or Montana residents of course. Then suppose I was loaded with money and financed the build-out of an OC3 line out to my house. Then, according to the present guidelines, I would be the one house with a connection faster than 200kbps, and then the zip code will "have broadband." Thing is, an OC3 costs far more than $100/mo.
Without a latency requirement, anywhere with EDGE access counts since it's *theoretically* faster than 200kbps. Again, no latency requirement means the ability to use satellite Internet counts as broadband. Satellite Internet also sometimes fails the price requirement.
MINIMUM PERCENTAGE OF STREET ADDRESSES:
I think this speaks for itself. Going back to my previous example of the OC3, it would mean that the zip code is "broadband ready," even if a next door neighbor can't pay for the connection. How "broadband ready" does the zip code look to average people in that zip code?
Of course, I don't really have an OC3, though I wish I did. I've always considered small-town living as very expensive since A) you have to drive long distances to do anything (time, maybe gas), and B) needing a T1 since DSL and Cable probably won't be available. Locally available goods will also be expensive due to transportation costs.
Thankfully, where I live can't be considered really rural, although it's the most rural area I've ever lived in.
| |chlenEthically ChallengedPremium
Re: 2nd graph is kinda pointless
said by tiger72:I was in scarcely inhabited parts of Finland and was able to get broadband via GSM. 1.5/256. I was in the north about 150 miles from Savonlinna near the Russian border. There are virtually no people there but I picked up 3 different GSM providers and broadband. For what its worth.
It implies that certain countries are heavily investing in broadband, regardless of their apparently very low population densities... That is, however, false because in most of those countries their population is heavily centered in a select few cities, while the rest of the country goes broadband-less but drives down the overall density figure...
just wanted to throw that out there...
"He who is not afraid today to say 'no' to the repressive machinery of a criminal bureaucracy earns the right to be called a Human Being."
| |said by tiger72:Not true. These countries actually have broadband policies that encourage deployment to all citizens, not, as in the U.S., just a select class. Examples: BT has wired all CO's in Scotland, even in the Highlands. A farmer in the countryside in Korea has broadband access to sell his product, just as his city brethren.
That is, however, false because in most of those countries their population is heavily centered in a select few cities, while the rest of the country goes broadband-less but drives down the overall density figure...
This was years ago and before DSL was deployed, but I remember being amazed having ISDN in tiny hamlet way up in the French Alps.
In addition to considering a 200kbps connection broadband, the agency has consistently stated that if a zip code has just one home or business with broadband service, that zip code is "wired" for broadband.A T1 used by a cell phone tower, is faster than 200kbs. A cell phone provider is a "business". Does that mean that in any zip code with a cell phone tower has "broadband"?